NewsPinellas County


Cash or credit? Soon, you may not have a choice

Restaurants and stores across the US nix cash
Posted at 5:25 PM, Mar 28, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Cash or credit? Soon you won’t have a choice.

Thursday, Tropicana Field became the first stadium in the nation to go completely cashless. It's the latest in a growing trend of businesses ditching cash. Yet, some say the change could hurt millions of Americans.

RELATED: Rays Opening Day: No cash accepted and new hangouts among changes for 2019 at Tropicana Field

St. Pete resident Roderick Vines is one of them.

“I think it’s terrible. It's a terrible idea,” he said.

Vines primarily uses cash, and most of his friends do too. Some, don’t even have bank accounts.

“We can’t get credit cards or debit cards,” he explained. "So we prefer cash."

Across the country, hundreds of restaurants and stores are switching to cashless systems.

ABC Action News checked on both sides of Tampa Bay and couldn't find any businesses nixing cash just yet, but the idea is already forcing the Salvation Army of St. Petersburg to adjust how they help people in need.

“80 percent of the clients we serve don’t even have bank accounts,” explained Lt. Colonel Gary Haupt.

The Salvation Army is now working with banks to help connect Tampa Bay’s homeless population with debit cards, and help with credit card financial literacy.

“It’s not going to be easy, but we realize that this isn't a future issue, it's a now issue,” Haupt added.

New Jersey and Philadelphia leaders just banned cashless stores, saying they unfairly harm low-income residents.

At Tropicana Field, stadium staff say eliminating cash will cut transaction times in half, and fans can always swap their cash for gift cards inside the stadium.

Brigitte Whittaker is taking the opposite approach. As the owner of Brew D' Licious Cafe on St. Pete's Central Avenue, she realized she was paying $12,000 a year in credit card processing fees. Now, any customer that pays with a credit card is charged an extra .50 cents per transaction.

"For us, it at least gives people a choice. You can either pay cash or you can pay 50 cents to use a card,” Whittaker added. She says it's the best way to keep drink costs low and her employee's salaries high.